By comparing these images with those previously taken by Hubble, astronomers have been able to detect brightness and color changes--a mix of white, dark-orange, and charcoal-black--on Pluto's surface.
Pluto has become significantly redder, while its illuminated northern hemisphere is getting brighter. These changes are most likely consequences of surface ice melting on the sunlit pole and then refreezing on the other pole, as the dwarf planet heads into the next phase of its 248-year-long seasonal cycle. -- Press ReleaseThese images will be used to help further plan which hemisphere the New Horizons probe will gather its most detailed data on during its quick passage by Pluto.
Pluto: 90° Longitude
Pluto: 180° Longitude
Pluto: 270° Longitude
Full Photomap of Pluto
Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Buie (Southwest Research Institute)